Popcorn Blu Ray Review (88 Films)
Popcorn is a 1991 horror film directed by actor Mark Herrier (Porky’s trilogy, Freddy’s Nightmares, Real Men, & Tank). Alan Ormsby (Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, Deranged, Dead of Night, Cat People, & The Substitute) wrote the screenplay & he was the original director before he got replaced after only a few weeks. It was produced by filmmaker Bob Clark (Black Christmas, A Christmas Story, Porky’s 1/2, Dead of Night, & Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things). The original lead was Amy O’Neill but she got dropped & replaced after filming for a little bit. It was shot in Kingston, Jamaica. It bombed so bad at the box office during it’s opening that it got booked for second run/discount cinemas right away instead of major chains.
College film student & aspiring film writer Maggie Butler (played by: Jill Schoelen from The Stepfather, Cutting Class, When a Stranger Calls Back, Curse II, & The Phantom of the Opera) keeps having recurring nightmares of a young girl named Sarah who is caught in a fire & being chased by a strange man who is trying to kill her. She plans on making the story into a film. Maggie lives with her mother Suzanne (played by: Dee Wallace from The Howling, Critters, The Hills Have Eyes, Cujo, & The Frighteners). Her boyfriend Mark (played by: Derek Rydall from Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge, Night Visitor, Death Wish 4, & Telefon) is trying to distract her but she’s focused on writing her screenplay. The film department for school is struggling for funds so classmate Toby D’Amato (played by: Tom Villard from My Girl, Parasite, We Got It Made, & Force: Five) has an idea for an all-night Horror-thon to raise funds. Dr. Mnesyne (played by: Ray Walston from My Favorite Martian, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Silver Streak, The Stand, & Galaxy of Terror) helps putting together the event. It features 3 different films with 3 different gimmicks Mosquito, The Attack of the Amazing Electrified Man, & The Stench. Professor Davis (played by: Tony Roberts from Amityville 3-D, Serpico, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, & 18 Again!) is supervising everything & making sure it ends up running smooth. They find a lost short film called Possessor which is similar to Maggie’s dreams. Davis tells them about Lanyard Gates (played by: special effects artist Matt Falls from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Pit and the Pendulum, Cyborg, & Fright Night Part 2) & what happened with him after the film. Mark arrives with another girl Joy (played by: Karen Witter from Dangerously Close, Mortuary Academy, Out of the Dark, & Buried Alive) at the box office. The rest of the film department which includes Bud (played by: Malcolm Danare from Christine, The Curse, Godzilla, The Lords of Discipline, & Flashdance), Cheryl (played by: Kelly Jo Minter from The People Under the Stairs, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5, The Lost Boys, & Summer School), Joanie (played by: Ivette Soler from The Grifters), Tina (played by: Freddie Simpson from A League of Their Own), & Leon (played by: Elliott Hurst from Looking for Miracles) get ready for their big night of horror films to try to save their favorite subject in school. Someone in the theater is killing them off one by one during the event. Most people just think it’s part of the show. Who is behind this madness? Can they save the film department & survive the night????
Popcorn is one of the best slashers produced in the 90s. It had a creative killer & the murders were very entertaining. The special effects were impressive on this feature. Some of the visual effects here are dated now & they look silly but at the time it was made it was considered top notch quality. Technology has changed A LOT over the years since this was filmed. It had a nice atmosphere to it & it’s always very fun to watch. Jill Schoelen is one of my scream queens & this is one of her best performances. The supporting cast has all kinds of character actors & faces you remember from various other projects. They definitely brought this production to another level. I love how this embraced the horror community & it took place during all night marathon dedicated to the genre. It’s not really talked about that much compared to the others. It’s one of the most under-rated from the sub genre. HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from 88 Films! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer from a 2K restoration from an archival 35mm interpositive is a huge improvement from the previous Elite DVD release! It’s never looked this good on home video. It has 2 different audio options which include the original DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix & the newly created 7.1 surround sound track on the disc. Popcorn sounds amazing on this release, it’s a major improvement compared to the older releases. It highlights all the suspense, thrills, & horror from the feature. It brings you into the audience while all the mayhem takes place. It also has English subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from 88 Films on this blu ray disc! It has an “Audio Commentary” with director Mark Herrier, lead actress Jill Schoelen, actor Malcolm Danare, & actor/special effects artist Matt Falls moderated by FEARnet’s Kristy Jett. Mark Herrier talks about replacing the original director for this. He points out some of the stuff Alan Ormsby directed before he accepted the job. They said almost all of the original dialogue had to be re-looped. Jill Schoelen says that the original actress that she replaced can still be seen in a few scenes, They joke about all the Jamaican music played while filming this. Later on, they discuss the soundtrack & score for the feature. They bring up all the great reviews they got this when it first came out. They chat about various members of the cast & crew. They focus on the special effects from the production.They joke about this film being hard to find on home video before now. Mark Herrier brings up when producer Bob Clark fired his own friend Alan Ormsby on this production that it ruined their relationship. He says Bob Clark was very hands on for this film & he was constantly looking over his shoulder while shooting this. “Midnight Madness: The Making of Popcorn” is a little over 57 minutes. It has interviews with director Mark Herrier, actors Jill Schoelen, Malcolm Danare, Dee Wallace, Derek Rydall, Ivette Soler, Elliott Hurst, Matt Falls (also did special effects), composer Paul Zaza, & distributor Jonathan Wolf. The cast chats about how they got their roles for this. They talk about going to the filming location 2 weeks early to rehearse & bond together. They bring up the controversy & rough start that lead to the firing of the original director after a few weeks. Alan Ormsby fought for original lead actress Amy O’Neill & lost the battle. Mark Herrier & Jill Schoelen chat about replacing those two early into the production.
They mention their first experiences on the set & say it was a little awkward because everyone already bonded together weeks before. They bring up all the recognizable & known actors from this. They mention how it was like working with them. They talk about the Jamaica location & creative ways they used extras for the feature. They joke about lots of people hooking up during this. They talk about Tom Villard & pay tribute to him. They all have kind words & great stories about the late actor. They bring up producer Bob Clark & they are not shy about his involvement here. They mention him having lots of control over everything. One actor basically said he was the actual director of this. Mark Herrier even admits that Clark shot some scenes for Popcorn. They bring up the marketing & promotion for the production. They talk about their first experience seeing it on the big screen. “Electric Memories” is an almost 7 minute interview with actor Bruce Glover. He chats about his experience working on a “film within a film” directed by Alan Ormsby in Popcorn. He talks about how he got the role. He mentions seeing it for the very first time. I wasn’t impressed by it but he was happy that he was getting rave reviews for it. It has all kinds of promotional material including the original “Theatrical Trailer”, “Television Trailer”, “TV Spots”, & a “Still Gallery”. Popcorn gets it’s definitive release overseas in the United Kingdom courtesy of 88 Films. It also has a slipcover & red case, it’s a part of the Slasher Classics Collection. It’s available all over the U.K. right now, check it out!!!!